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Unruptured aneurysms

David G. Piepgras

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Current neurosurgical indications for saphenous vein graft bypass

Jonathan A. Friedman and David G. Piepgras


Vascular bypass is performed in neurosurgery for a variety of pathological entities, including extracranial atherosclerotic disease, extra- and intracranial aneurysms, and tumors involving the carotid artery (CA) at the skull base or cervical regions. Creation of an interposition saphenous vein graft (SVG) is the typical method of choice when the superficial temporal artery is not an option.


One hundred thirty consecutive patients treated with SVG between July 1988 and December 2002 at the Mayo Clinic were studied. A total of 130 procedures were performed in 130 patients. The indications were intracranial aneurysm in 51 patients (39%), CA occlusive disease in 36 (28%), extracranial CA aneurysm in 17 (13%), tumors involving the cervical CA in 11 (8%), vertebral artery occlusive disease in eight (6%), and other indications in six patients (5%). Among patients treated for intracranial aneurysms, 43 harbored giant aneurysms (> 25 mm in widest diameter) whereas the remaining eight patients harbored aneurysms that were large (15–25 mm in widest diameter). Among patients with CA occlusive disease, high-grade stenosis at the CA bifurcation was present in 29 and CA occlusion was demonstrated in seven.


The use of SVG bypass remains a valuable component of the neurosurgical armamentarium for a variety of pathological entities. Despite a general trend toward decreased use because of improved endovascular technology, surgical facility with this procedure should be maintained.

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Postoperative ectopic craniopharyngioma

Case report

Ashvin T. Ragoowansi and David G. Piepgras

✓ The case of an ectopic craniopharyngioma arising from a seed of tissue deposited along the operative track is reported. The uniqueness of this lesion is addressed. Ideal therapy and controversies regarding radiation therapy of craniopharyngiomas are discussed in light of this new variation in recurrence.

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Aortic Coarctation and Remote Cerebral Fistulae

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Remote Hemorrhage

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Surgical approach to giant intracranial aneurysms

Operative experience with 80 cases

Thoralf M. Sundt Jr. and David G. Piepgras

✓ The authors report experience with the surgical management of 80 giant intracranial aneurysms (> 2.5cm in diameter) during a 10-year period in which they performed 594 operations for aneurysms. The overall incidence of giant aneurysms was 13% but varied according to location: 20% of aneurysms of the internal carotid artery (ICA); 13% of middle cerebral artery (MCA) aneurysms; 1% of anterior cerebral artery (ACA) aneurysms; 15% of aneurysms of the basilar artery caput (BAC); and 18% of vertebrobasilar trunk(VB) aneurysms. Twenty-five patients had a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), 49 had mass effect from the aneurysm, and six had ischemic events. There was no apparent difference in results related to the presence or absence of an SAH. Poor results were attributable to the operation except in the two cases of ACA aneurysm in which preexisting dementia persisted. Mortality was 4% and morbidity was 14%, varying from a combined low morbidity-mortality of 8% for ICA lesions to a high of 50% for BAC aneurysms. During the period of the study, different techniques were developed in an attempt to lower the risks of surgery.Ultimately ICA aneurysms were monitored with cerebral blood flow measurements and electroencephalography before and after temporary ICA ligation, then approached following resection of the anterior clinoid or treated with bypass in combination with ICA ligation. Aneurysms of the MCA were either opened during temporary MCA occlusion or resected in combination with a bypass procedure. Bypass grafts and circulatory arrest with extracorporeal circulation may have a role in giant aneurysms of the posterior circulation.

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Occipital to posterior inferior cerebellar artery bypass surgery

Thoralf M. Sundt Jr. and David G. Piepgras

✓ The results, complications, and technical aspects of occipital to posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) bypass surgery are reviewed. Patients were divided into two groups: those considered to be a high risk for posterior circulation infarct but not disabled by the symptoms or deficits (eight patients), and those moderately or severely disabled at the time of admission (eight patients). Postoperative angiography revealed that 15 of the 16 grafts were patent. In 10 of the 15 patent grafts, the bypass graft served as a sole or major blood supply of the vertebral basilar system; in five patients, flow was limited to the distribution of the PICA. Eight patients achieved full employment or normal activity, six were improved but did not return to full employment, and two patients were unchanged. Ataxia was the major residual deficit in these patients.

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Late patency of long saphenous vein bypass grafts to the anterior and posterior cerebral circulation

Luca Regli, David G. Piepgras, and Kristine K. Hansen

✓ To evaluate the late results and the natural history of long saphenous vein bypass grafts (SVGs) between the extracranial and intracranial circulation, the authors retrospectively analyzed 202 consecutive SVGs performed at the Mayo Clinic from 1979 to 1992. The distal anastomosis was to the vertebrobasilar system in 98 patients and to the carotid artery system in 103 patients. Surgical indications were advanced cerebroocclusive disease in 63% (127 cases), giant aneurysm in 37% (74 cases), and neoplasm in one patient. In 125 patent SVGs follow-up information was obtained for longer than 1 year and in 23 patent SVGs it was over 10 years (maximum 13 years, median 6.5 years). Most of the graft failures (76%) occurred during the 1st year after surgery, with 42% of all graft failures found during the first 24 hours after operation. Late graft attrition occurred in only 10 patients (8%). Cumulative patency at 1 year was 86% ± 3%, at 5 years 82% ± 4%, and at 13 years 73% ± 19%. Neurological worsening at the time of occlusion developed in 72% of patients with early occlusion, whereas 80% of patients with late graft occlusion had no new neurological symptoms. Long-term patency of SVGs for cerebral revascularization appears to be excellent, with an average failure rate of 1% to 1.5% per year following the 1st year after surgery. To minimize early graft thrombosis, meticulous attention must be paid to technical detail.

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Angiographic frequency of saccular intracranial aneurysms in patients with spontaneous cervical artery dissection

Wouter I. Schievink, Bahram Mokri, and David G. Piepgras

✓ The pathogenesis of intracranial aneurysms and spontaneous cervical artery dissection is incompletely understood but a primary arteriopathy, possibly similar in both disorders, may be of importance. To investigate the frequency of intracranial aneurysms in patients with spontaneous cervical artery dissection, the angiograms of 164 patients who were diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic as having spontaneous extracranial carotid or vertebral artery dissection were reviewed. Thirteen intracranial aneurysms were detected in nine (5.5%) of the 164 patients: eight (8.8%) of the 91 female patients and one (1.4%) of the 73 male patients. The frequency of intracranial aneurysms in these patients was significantly higher (p < 0.01) than that observed in a recent angiographic study from the same institution, estimating the frequency of intracranial aneurysms in the general population (1.1%). The significance of these findings is discussed.

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Traumatic dissections of the extracranial internal carotid artery

Bahram Mokri, David G. Piepgras, and O. Wayne Houser

✓ Traumatic dissections of the extracranial internal carotid artery (ICA) in 18 patients aged 19 to 55 years were studied. All had suffered blunt head or neck injury of marked or moderate severity; motor-vehicle accidents were the leading cause of the injury. Delayed focal cerebral ischemic symptoms were the most common presenting symptoms. Less commonly noted was focal unilateral headache associated with oculosympathetic paresis or bruit. Following a head injury, the abrupt onset of focal cerebral symptoms after a lucid interval should raise the suspicion of arterial injury, particularly when computerized tomography fails to show abnormalities that would explain the evolving neurological deficits on the basis of direct trauma to the brain. Unilateral headaches, oculosympathetic palsy, and bruits also help in establishing the diagnosis. Focal cerebral ischemic symptoms may develop months or years after the initial trauma. These delayed symptoms are caused by embolization from a thrombus within a residual dissecting aneurysm. Common angiographic findings, in decreasing order of frequency, are: aneurysm, stenosis of the lumen, occlusion, intimal flap, distal branch occlusion (embolization), and slow ICA-to-middle cerebral artery flow. Although two patients died as the result of massive cerebral infarction and edema and some were left with severe neurological deficits, most made a good recovery. Residual dissecting aneurysms and occlusion seem to occur more frequently with traumatic dissections than with spontaneous dissections of the extracranial ICA.